Servenge LLC
Design Home   | Capabilities  |  Past Projects  |  TestimonialsGetting Started  |  Affiliates  |  Contact Us
Talk to us by phone, fax or email (see Contact Us).  Introduce yourself and get to know us.  Although every New Product Development is different, the step-wise definition, planning and execution phases are about the same.  We follow them because they have been successful for dozens of projects large and small.  On the lower portion of this page is a detailed presentation of our New Product Development and associated Project Management methods.  We ask that you read them and become familiar at least with the general idea of a structured development program.
(Click here for a PDF version)
Confidentiality:
As you consider doing business with Servenger be assured that we will protect your intellectual property. A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is typically undertaken for this. A standard Business to Business NDA is available here:

If you are developing a patentable idea that you wish to discuss with us that has not yet been filed, it is important that you avoid public disclosure prior to the filing of the patent application.  For that purpose we suggest using this more patent specific NDA.  It should be executed on or before the day that you discuss the details of your patentable idea with us:
In our initial discussions, you will not be charged any fee.  These are generally the creative, interesting, and enjoyable part of a product development effort.  As we work together to Define the product, you will get to know us and vice versa.  You will be able to decide whether are not we are the right company to engage for this work.  The Requirements phase and the Plan & Proposal phases will involve a significant effort on our part to develop a high quality Requirements statement and a Development Plan to create the new product.  Although negotiable, we will typically request a separate payment when these documents are completed as a good-faith demonstration that you recognize the value that we are creating and that you have the ability and willingness to pay for it.


Cost Plus contracts provide an estimated cost figure and the customer is contractually obliged to make progress payments for labor content, material purchases and charges from third parties.  This kind of contract is used where the requirements are not well defined or subject to change, where the success of the project depends on subjective conclusions or interdependencies with third parties, or where the project is judged to be high risk.  This is an appropriate contracting method where the client needs to explore an undefined area for a new product using our assistance. Customers who need to bring us into their efforts on a periodic or on-demand basis will generally execute a Master Services Agreement (MSA)  for this purpose.  We have a sample MSA available for review.

Phase Price contracts set out a fixed price to execute the next step in an established Development Plan that will lead to the next milestone point.  The fixed price is generally for labor content with material purchases and charges from third parties passed through directly.  The customer is obligated to make progress payments per our invoicing up to the agreed limit to achieve the next milestone point.  A Phase Price contract lowers risk for the customer by being obligated only for the current project phase.  We will quote a Phase Price contract where the incremental project phases are well defined and expected to be of short duration with predictable outcomes.

Fixed Price contracts will be considered for simple projects with few unknowns, follow-on efforts from previous projects or similar situations that are low risk for us and for you.
Billing Models:
We will propose either a Cost Plus type of contract or a Phase Price type of contract:
Our Project Management Methods in more detail:
#2 - The mid level, consisting of three important on-going activities:
Anticipating Surprises:
A good Project Manager is always looking ahead to the upcoming milestones and anticipating the “chicken tests” that have to be successfully passed to meet the milestones and keep the project on track. The truly skillful Project Manager will already have “Plan B” alternatives ready to go for when a test outcome is unfavorable. Ask us about the "chicken test" concept as we plan your project. If there are no chicken tests included then it may not be a very good project plan.
Design Reviews where the progress of the project activities leading up to the next milestone are reviewed:
Detailed Design Reviews focus the engineering staff on having a complete and correct solution to achieve the product functionality. Errors, missing information and uncompleted tasks are identified for correction.
Monitoring Progress vs the Plan as the project progresses:
A skillful Project Leader encourages team members to take personal ownership for the successful completion of each activity and to accurately report the progress. During weekly project meetings, activities that are on-schedule get marked with a green dot and proceed with a lesser level of monitoring until the next meeting. Activities that are behind schedule, or are likely to fall behind schedule in the near term, get marked with a red dot and are then intensively managed to bring them onto schedule.
#3 - The highest level, where the executive level over-view, information sharing and decision making gets done:
The most skillful Project Manager will have a good grasp of the “Big Picture” for how the project is going versus schedule & budget and most of all for the risks that may cause delays, excess costs or outright failure of the effort. At this level a good Project Manager is capable of delivering an accurate and believable synopsis of the Big Picture to the sponsors, owners and/or executives of the enterprise.

In the best case the Big Picture is that the project is on or ahead of budget and schedule with the risks identified and planned for.

In the worst case, a project can be irretrievably broken and should be turned off or at least re-planned before proceeding further. Those are the projects that needlessly waste time and money.

In thirty years we haven’t had any projects end up in the worst case category. However, the best Project Manager has to be constantly evaluating the project and brave enough to speak up with the bad news as it occurs and then fix it if possible.
#1 - The lowest level, consisting of:
Creating the Plan for what to do and in what order, identifying the activities that can be done in parallel, understanding the interdependencies and slack times and then how the interdependencies have to come together to meet the program milestones. Gant charts on big marker boards and Microsoft Project are the tools at this level. It is typical to create an initial MS Project plan for a complex project and then throw it away and create a better one as the work team gets smarter for how to get things done.
Good Project Management is essential for successful New Product Development.  Project Management is the art for using talent, time and money to create a successful outcome.  We have studied this art for thirty years in classes and daily work.
Repeating a message from above:
    Simple projects get simple plans and complex projects get complex plans.

There are three levels to successful Project Management:
Our New Product Development Process in more detail:
(Click here for a PDF version)

Servenger will work with you and your staff through a step-wise New Product Development process that is understandable and low risk.  Each phase will have clear plans, deliverables and budget appropriate to the magnitude of the project.  We take pride in delivering value to our clients.  This should be clearly apparent at each milestone.

At the very beginning of a project are the essential questions:
What is this going to cost?
How long is it going to take?

Our New Product Development process consists of phases that begin with a concise Definition of the product and work step-wise through to Manufacturing Start Up. Our process is structured to provide high quality estimates during the Definition, Requirements and Plan & Proposal phases before making major financial commitments to go forward. Each phase includes target deliverables and milestone dates. As the project moves toward the development process, the product design will more and more closely conform to the detaile
New Product Development Phases
Regulatory Test
& Certification
FDA, FCC, UL/CSA/European regulatory compliance documentation and testing as required.
Ongoing Manufacturing and Making Profits
Since Servenger has done the development work we would typically be involved in some way to support the product through its manufacturing lifecycle.  The most convenient way would be for Servenger to act as the ongoing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for the products that we have designed.
Manufacturing
Start Up Phase
Includes:
◦ Revisions to mechanical, electrical, software and fit & finish as needed
◦ Product Packaging available
◦ Manufacturing Readiness Review
◦ Initial Manufacturing Assembly and Test
◦ Evaluation of Manufacturing First Article
◦ Manufacturing Release
◦ Product Delivery to Customer per agreed Production Schedule
Presentation Phase
(B-Phase)
The engineering staff create a mechanical, electrical, software and fit & finish approximation of the final product.  Though not expected to be perfectly ready for Manufacturing release, the B-Phase prototype will be sufficiently representative to demonstrate all the functionality set out in the Requirements statement.  The Manufacturing Test procedures will be developed using the B-Phase unit.
Prototype Phase
(A-Phase)
A highly detailed functional prototype version of the intended product is created.  Among other outcomes, the Marketing people will be able to see and understand the functionality of the product so that they can develop the value statement for what the new product brings the market.  The software developer will use the prototype to run and test the initial code.
Project Start
With customer approval and funding, the project will commence.
Customer Acceptance of the A-Phase Prototype
Customer Acceptance of the B-Phase Prototype
Definition
What does the product look like and what does it do when done? This is the “big picture” statement of functionality of the product, typically from the users’ point of view.
Requirements
A written description of the important functional and performance attributes of the product.  This will be the yardstick to measure against at each milestone.
Plan & Proposal
The plan of what will be done, approximately how long it will take and how much it will cost.  Early phase cost & time estimates are expected to be more accurate than cost & time estimates for the later phases.  The customer is expected at this point to commit to the budget for the immediate next phase, but only to provide general approval for the later phases.

This is the answer to “What will this cost?" and "How long will it take to develop this product?”

An important outcome of this phase is the evaluation and understanding of the program risks.  The essential work of the Project Manager thereafter will be to address and minimize the risk elements as the effort progresses.
d Requirements document developed at the start of the effort.

Our New Product Development process is scalable to the size, complexity and risks with the proposed project:
    •    Simple projects get a simple plan and proposal
    •    Complex projects get a highly detailed plan and proposal

Getting Started